My daughter was six when she was diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder. I was shocked, but also relieved. And so was she.
Her history of erratic, sometimes frightening behavior started in preschool. By kindergarten, she'd earned some less-than-flattering labels. The weird girl. The bad girl. The crazy girl.
The worst part was she believed them. When I tucked her in at night, she'd cry and say she didn't belong on this planet.
Getting a diagnosis was like being handed a map after being lost in the wilderness. My daughter is 10 now. With treatment, the differences between her and her peers aren't as obvious. She loves Taylor Swift and fashion. She has friends and slumber parties.
I try to be open about her condition and encourage her to do the same, just like I would if she had allergies or asthma. I want to empower her and help erase the stigma attached to mental illness.